Smokers huddling outside offices have been a common sight since the smoking ban came into force in England and Wales 2007, and now workers at a district council in Norfolk must clock off and back on if they take a cigarette break. But should smokers have to pay back the time they spend away from their work?
Some smokers may have to puff away in their own time as a growing number of local authorities are telling their employees to “clock out” whenever they take a ciggie break. Since the smoking ban, at least six councils from around the country have installed a new smoking policy which requires staff to make up the time they spend smoking instead of working. And now, employees at Breckland Council in Norfolk have to do the same – since Monday, staff have been required to “clock in and out” to get their nicotine fix.
William Nunn, leader of the council, said the new regime was actually initiated by smokers themselves. Speaking to the BBC, he said: "This all came about when staff contacted our HR team because they were confused about what the policy was on clocking out for smoking breaks. Some of the smokers were concerned because many of them, 54% it turned out, clocked out."
With the average smoker spending an hour each day on a ciggie break, Nunn added: "I would suggest that all staff take breaks. The difference is that smokers are taking additional breaks. Everyone, non-smokers and smokers, goes for a wander or for a coffee and we’re not suggesting that they should be clocked. We have a policy around personal internet use – that it should only be in free time – and there are undoubtedly breaches of that, like in any company."
But Forest, a media and political lobby group for smokers, think smokers are being unfairly singled out. Director Simon Clark, said: "Are they going to introduce clocking in and off for people who go on the internet, on Facebook, or people who want to have a cup of coffee? Many smokers believe having the occasional cigarette allows them to refocus.”
What do you think? Should smokers have to clock in and out if whenever they go on cigarette breaks?
Picture kindly from here